United States Regiments & Batteries > Pennsylvania

“Baxter’s Fire Zouaves”

 “Third California”

“Philadelphia Fire Zouaves”

The 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment lost 11 officers and 182 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 2 officers and 69 enlisted men to disease during the Civil War. It is honored with the Philadelphia Brigade on a monument at Antietam, and by two monuments at Gettysburg.

August 3-10 Organized at Philadelphia as the Third California Volunteer Infantry Regiment by Colonel Edward D. Baker, powerful congressman and close friend and associate of President Lincoln. Although raised in Philadelphia, the regiment was one of four which Baker wanted to credit to the state of California so the state would be represented in the Federal army. The field officers were Colonel DeWitt C. Baxter, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Hesser and Major James M DeWitt. Unlike most Union infantry regiments, the regiment was formed with 15 companies, a total of 1,487 men.
August Moved to Washington, D.C. at Munson’s Hill
September 30 Moved to Poolesville, Md. and duty on the Upper Potomac. Attached to Baker’s Brigade, Stone’s (Sedgwick’s) Division, Army Potomac
October With the death of Colonel Baker at Ball’s Bluff, the State of Pennsylvania reclaimed the four regiments of the California Brigade. They were renamed the “Philadelphia Brigade,” the only brigade in the Federal army to carry the name of a city, and were given Pennsylvania numbers.
February At Harper’s Ferry
March 24-April 1 Moved to the Virginia Peninsula, attached to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army Potomac
April 5-May 4 Siege of Yorktown. Picket and fatigue duty in the trenches. Many men were disabled and some died from the wet weather and unhealthy camp.
May 7 Moved via transports up the York River to West Point
May 8-30 At Tyler’s Farm
May 31-June 1
Battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines)

The regiment lost 5 men killed and 4 badly wounded.

June 2-28 At Fair Oaks
June 8 Near Fair Oaks
June 15 Seven Pines
June 19 Fair Oaks
June 25-July 1 Seven days before Richmond
June 29
Battles of Peach Orchard and Savage Station

Captain Charles McGonigle and 14 other men were killed turning back a Confederate attack in support of a battery.

June 30 Charles City Cross Roads and Glendale
July 1
Malvern Hill

In line and under fire but nor engaged.

July-August At Harrison’s Landing
July 19 Major James DeWitt dismissed
July 28 Captain Samuel Roberts of Company A promoted to major
August 16-28 Movement to Newport News, then to Alexandria
August 28-30 To Centreville and Chantilly
August 31-September 1 Cover Pope’s retreat
September 6-24 Maryland Campaign
September 16-17
Battle of Antietam

Commanded by Colonel DeWitt C. Baxter, the regiment lost 38 killed, 163 wounded and 36 missing in a few moments time when it was attacked in the flank in the desperate fighting in the West Woods. It was the third highest losses of any Union regiment at Antietam. Captain Peter Willitts, Lieutenant Adolphus W. Peabody were killed, Captain Edward Roussel and Lieutenant Robert Parks were mortally wounded and Captain Isaac McBride wa wounded.

From the War Department marker for the brigade on the Antietam battlefield at the west edge of Philadelphia Brigade Park:

Howard’s Brigade, following Gorman and Dana in their attack, passed through the East Woods, crossed the Cornfield and the Hagerstown Pike and reached the edge of the West Woods, where its advance was checked about 90 yards east of this point.

Its left flank having been attacked and turned by McLaws’ and Walker’s Divisions, it was forced to retire to the fields north of D.R. Miller’s, where it was reformed and placed in position in support of a part of the Artillery of the First and Twelfth Coprs and of Sedgewick’s Division of the Second Corps.

September 22 Moved to Harper’s Ferry
October 16-17 Reconnaissance to Charlestown
October 30-November 20 Movement to Falmouth, Va.
December 12-15 Battle of FredericksburgThe regiment lost five killed and a large number wounded
January 20-24 Burnside’s second Campaign, “Mud March”
February-April At Falmouth
February 25 Hartwood Church
March 27 Captain Francis McBride discharged due to wounds
April 27-May 6 Chancellorsville Campaign
May 1 and 4 Banks Ford
June 13-July 24 Gettysburg Campaign
July 2-4
Battle of Gettysburg

The regiment was commanded by Colonel Dewit Clinton Baxter until he was wounded on July 3. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Hesser then took over.

From the main monument:

July 2nd 1863. The Regiment reached this angle at 1 a.m. Took position in rear of this monument. Supported Cushing’s Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery. At 6 p.m. assisted in repulsing an attack of the enemy and in making a counter-charge, driving them beyond the Emmitsburg Road and capturing 250 prisoners.

July 3, 1863. The Regiment assisted in repulsing the charge of the enemy on the Angle at 3 p.m. and in capturing many standards and prisoners.

During the cannonading which preceded the charge the regiment was in line 60 yards to the left and rear of this monument when the rebels forced the troops from the first line the 72nd fought its way to the front and occupied the wall.

Present at Gettysburg 498, killed and mortally wounded 62, wounded 133, missing 2. Total of killed wounded and missing 197.

From the secondary monument:

The ground of the last assault. The Philadelphia Brigade, Gen. Alexander Webb held this angle July 2 and 3 1863. Casualties in the battle 495.

The 72d Penn. Vol’s. Philadelphia Fire Zouaves, Colonel D. W. C. Baxter, lost 10 officers and 182 men out of 473 present for duty. The regiment erects this tribute to the memory of their fallen comrades.

Captains James J. Griffith and Andrew McBride and Lieutenant Sutton Jones were killed, and Lieutenant B. M. Heulings was wounded

July 5-24 Pursuit of Lee. Colonel Baxter took command of the brigade, leaving Lieutenant Colonel Hesser in command of the regiment.
August-October At Banks Ford and Culpeper
September 13-17 Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan
October 9-22 Bristoe Campaign
October 14
Bristoe Station

Lieutenant Michael Coste killed

October 22 Major Roberts discharged
November 7-8 Advance to line of the Rappahannock
November 26-December 2 Mine Run Campaign
November 27
Robertson’s Tavern or Locust Grove

Lieutenant Colonel Thedore Hesser was killed leading the regiment, which was deployed as skirmishers.

December-May Duty on the Rapidan
December 20 Captain Henry A. Cook of Company I promoted to lieutenant colonel
February 6-7 Demonstration on the Rapidan
May 4-June 12 Rapidan Campaign
May 5-7
Battle of the Wilderness

Captain Richard Shreve and three other men were killed

May 8-21
Battle of Spottsylvania Court House

Lieutenant Philip Grey captured and five men were killed

May 8 Laurel Hill
May 12-21 Po River
May 12 Assault on the Salient
May 23-26 North Anna River
May 26-28 On line of the Pamunkey
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
June 1-12
Battle of Cold Harbor

The regiment lost six killed and a large number wounded or captured

June 16-18 Before Petersburg; Siege of Petersburg begins. Attached to 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps
June 22-23
Jerusalem Plank Road

Lieutenant Jacob Glenn and five other men were killed, Captain Frederick A. Myers was wounded and Captain Edward B. Whitaker captured

July 27-29 Demonstration north of the James at Deep Bottom
July 27-28 Deep Bottom
July 27 Captain Andrew C. Supplee died of disease at Philadelphia
July 30 Mine Explosion, Petersburg (Reserve)
August Left the front for Philadelphia to muster out. Veterans and recruits transferred to 183rd Pennsylvania Infantry
August 24 Mustered out at Philadelphia under Colonel Baxter and Lieutenant Colonel Cook.